Journal Starting with R
8 min readJun 26, 2022


I am the last person I want to hear from right now. It is too nice outside for indoor capitalism, and you need a pair of smooth hands to build your dream house. You call me, you are so quiet, and I come to the white site of your future home. I meet with the architect and admire his plans. The surveyor offers me a hammer. This is all I ever wanted. Here, in the pits, I learn to blaspheme the things I love.

Abortion in your heart

Last year I wrote a tragic novel about a woman who has several “even in the case of rape or incest” abortions. She aborts her first cousin’s baby, her biology teacher’s baby, the police chief’s baby. But when she finally meets the father of her children she finds herself infertile. Perhaps Ellory receives the “punishment” Trump offered the abortion-striver, the “some kind of punishment” that, as in all Trump sentences, could be anything. Ellory Allen comes from wealth, so the law is not her issue. Her uncle escorts her to the first, her first cousin’s, so the abortion of his lysergic grandchild. On the drive up the lake, Ellory smears the injunction of Matt 5:27, which echoed through my head, on this brilliantly sunny Friday afternoon, as I rode my bike down the same lake path. “Who did this to you, my uncle asks me, even though he knows who did, he knows it could have been any man, he knows that he did it, he knows that when you look at a twelve-year-old girl lustfully, you have already aborted her baby in your heart.”

I would love to write even more fiction but I see a cop car painted with a Pride flag. I try to stay away from cops because when I was a child they beat me up and called me faggot and did even worse things to / tried to ruin the lives of / my brown friends and I don’t want them to kill me or abduct my wife or indoctrinate my child into their fake crowd. But when I see this Pride flag … painted on the cop SUV … like someone expressive was hired to do this …. it took some broad strokes … and, you know, cost taxpayer money … so my money … or maybe it was non-profit money … but still … what the fuck … I start cracking up. I laugh just like a did a few weeks ago when I saw the banged-up Audi near the flagship Ralph Lauren. On Tuesday in Toronto I noticed they call their cops a service, not a department. Maybe that’s a French thing. I was on LinkedIn because that’s where Facebook is now. I saw this post that you should support police departments because domestic abuse is way up in every American county.

I’m in an even wealthier neighborhood where everyone looks even happier, somehow, than in mine. It’s a straighter neighborhood, no rainbows for the centurions, and I come here often for practical reasons, but also I like to walk around in circles here committing adultery in my heart. The new Starbucks has no lock on the bathroom and I even pour myself free filtered water, sit down, and scroll the first pages of a buzz novel. The new Starbucks closer to me — which is close, but not that close, to a Black neighborhood — does have locks on its bathrooms. The masked worker whispers FIVE-THREE-TWO-ONE-AND-THEN-POUND all the live long day. I exit the new, Instagram-ready Starbucks to buy a bathing suit at J. Crew and they match dat motherfucking sale price from online. Now every time I go swimming I will think on my thriftiness. Another deadbeat summer up and down the bike path, up and down the pull-up bar, up and down the endless sales cycle. One of the seasonal J. Crew workers looks like, and is at the age, that one of my first girlfriends was at when we thought she was pregnant, even though we always used a spermicide condom, and we sat in the Planned Parenthood, desperate for an up or a down. Why did we think, in the 90s, that you were always pregnant, and that we straight people were always going to get AIDS? If we had had internet, would we have been better children?

In the park I jump off my bike at benches to write these thoughts. I hear the whistles of soccer tryouts on Wilson Hill, I smile whitely at Missourians in town for urbane grooming. I overhear the phrase “trigger laws” on a scout man’s radio, I hear one boy say to the other, “did you hear what they did today?”

Who are they, son?

I bike by the finest woman on the lake path. Kind of this dream person I didn’t even know I desired, a cross between rigid Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman, when she learns she lost the baby, and Hunter Schafer in Euphoria, when Rue says she fucking hates her. She also favors a barista of the month, a jack Hasidic girl I used to kiss in her unlockable Starbucks bathroom. (When I smell vanilla syrup I smell danger.) This luscious lake path woman is laughing into her phone and wearing Tom Ford sunglasses. “Damn,” I say out loud to myself, “her suffering is written in my CONSTITUTION.” I will impregnate her here in Illinois, but then drive us down I-55 to Missouri where she will give me a daughter who will never not need her Daddy’s boot. There’s this sign at the state border: women in Missouri can receive a safe and legal abortion in Illinois. Back in the day there might’ve been a similar sign that escaped slaves from Missouri could find Division One freedom on the other side. Then, as now, all states have the meats.

The woman on the lake path

I’d like to say I skipped the Phoebe Bridgers song, but I didn’t. The sexual instinct is everywhere and nowhere, in other words it is the feed. I see this Black boy who looks like David, and in a collegiate sense Cousin David died so young there was a statistical blackness to it. I once sent this tweet about a Black woman doing the most wonderful thing up and down the Montrose bluffs, but I deleted it when I thought about how I shouldn’t place Black people in locations, especially in nature, because like a female with a library card, huh, the Black person enjoying nature is a threat to domestic production. Andrew Bird sings, “the poets they explode like bombs, it feels like 1936 in Catalonia,” and America is the licensed asshole from Allie Rowbottom’s buzz novel Aesthetica, the asshole puckering in the air conditioning, the asshole that the cool pornographer doesn’t want, but the last human pornographers are so hot and anal they will need that asshole in situ, because without the war butt the dying American male can’t even get hard enough to make a baby.

Back then, when I wanted to turn against my own thoughts, I toked the Whiteman’s marijuana. Now I listen to right-wing podcasts. Lately I’ve been bending toward younger and even stranger right-wing podcasters, like I’m sitting at the other table in the lunch room. I don’t understand half of their references and I love that. But they crave meaning from literature I long ago unneeded, like Ernest Hemingway’s. These men talk and talk but they don’t see that Jake Barnes loved the bull because she didn’t talk, and Jake Barnes hated the Jew because it never shut up. How many words will it take to kill all of the people in the world? We are fooling ourselves if we think we want from 423 Park Avenue its phallus, and not its Scarlett Johansson. I imagine many on this right-wing were thrilled by Samuel Alito’s new layer of rosy skin; many of them do not believe in birth control because they believe feminism has set its controls for the uteri of their daughters and the vasa deferentia of their sons, and they don’t seem to believe in sexual perversion of any kind. It would make them weak (like the fag) or ponderous (like the Jew). So for them, anonymity is the only perversion. They wear masks not to limit disease, but to spread it. Their anonymity is everywhere and nowhere. It feeds their personality, as Saturn fed its feckless womb with that peppery son who, in Goya’s painting, has only an ass and not an asshole. These boys have a lot of interesting ideas, which is the problem. The west is closed for new slaughter but its metaphors are hungrier than ever.

432 Park Avenue

On the strip I drink a Greenwood Beach at Replay, served to me by a bartender with a purple gem in his nose ring, a beautiful man who put more time into his appearance this morning than any of the women who matched me at J. Crew. I think about playing Galaga, and how a woman I no longer know would’ve made fun of me for that, but there’s someone playing the Ms. Pac-Man and I don’t want to get covid again. I twist around the hood, looking for pretzels. None of the books in the window of the bookstore are the books that recently changed my life. I see Deborah in the window of La Colombe, hard at work on something, and I don’t go in and say hi, because some writers don’t do that to some other writers, but I say hi to her in my head, bless her sentences, double bless her paragraphs, triple bless her chapters, quadruple bless her book. The people I need to be close to have no idea who they are. Those of us who have been lucky enough to work through it all say too little about every devastation, or we say not enough. We can’t believe our ears. The structures do not sympathize. What I wanted to do today was do my work and keep my head down. But I team with this great guy who always messages me “oh shit” and then I go to the news and have what I call an “out of body experience,” which was totally different, I learn at home, from Betsy’s experience. She felt liver bile come up into her throat and was reduced to tears.



Journal Starting with R

“With each list I’ve assembled, I’ve asked myself variations on similar questions. Why the dearth of journals beginning with R followed by so many S’s?”